Evidence from a Pottery Shard

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Skeptics of the Bible long have tried to deny that the text is as ancient as the Bible claims. One popular myth is to claim that the Old Testament was written during the Babylonian captivity and was a record of the Israelite's legends. To that is added the claim that David and Solomon's reigns were tales much like the English tales of King Arthur.

A pottery shard discovered in 2006 in the Elah valley has been dated back to the 10th century B.C. It is written in ink and the words have been translated as:

1' you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2' Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3' [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4' the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5' Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

The similarity to passages, such as:

"Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow" (Isaiah 1:17).

"Thus says the LORD: "Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place" (Jeremiah 22:3).

Shows the strong influence of the Scriptures in the writer's life. The fact that it dates from the time of David's reign demonstrates that Israel did indeed occupy the land and it's language was used.

A good account of the find can be found at: Most Ancient Hebrew Biblical Inscription Deciphered, Scholar Says